Evolve’s 1-1 counselling service has been running for a number of years with tremendous success.
The programme was set up with the aim to promote good mental health and wellbeing that is free to all our homeless residents, with an emphasis on providing quality and professional counselling in a confidential and safe setting.
When the pandemic took hold, we knew we had to move fast to continue supporting our homeless residents, whilst also making big changes to the way we could deliver mental health support, at such a crucial time.
Over the course of the pandemic we increased the number of our counsellors to 10 and opened a Health + Wellbeing phone and video drop-in service accessible to everyone in our accommodation services.
The team created resources for staff and homeless residents, including a self-isolation guide, and wellbeing and activities booklets.
Our Psychological Wellbeing Therapists (PWTs) contacted our managers and staff to offer individual support via email or phone if they were struggling with how to work therapeutically with their residents. Our PWT’s worked flexibly, contacting residents in need without a referral having to be made. This allowed us to speak to residents who were struggling within two days.
Although some workshops have now resumed in-line with Government guidance*, at the beginning of the pandemic we paused our usual workshops and asked Wellbeing Peers to stop visiting services in order to reduce risk. Recently, the team has made the decision to allow a counsellor to visit one of our services and conduct socially distanced counselling sessions. We have continued to deliver training to Wellbeing Peers and Peer Circles members via Skype, and the Volunteer Peer Coordinator has also helped with recruitment of bank workers and supporting our Quality and Data team.
*this is being reviewed in light of the November Lockdown
Understanding the importance of outside space and mental health, a socially distanced garden project was completed at Palmer House during the late summer. This gave residents who were isolated something positive to focus on achieving.
Adaptions to covering shifts and working from home has been challenging, but we have worked extremely hard to continue providing vital counselling to our homeless residents throughout this tremendously difficult time.
We are always thrilled to see the positive impact our work has on the lives of those who need it most.
Words by Jon Deakin, Central + Community Services Manager